Full Plate

In our Full Plate series, Lake Effect has been exploring the many facets of agriculture, from city bee farms to the history of our state fair to how teaching agriculture to communities can help cities in the long run.

Audrey Nowakowski

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon at Pinehold Gardens in Oak Creek as guests park off-road and make their way to a long table.

Adorned with a white table cloth and wildflowers, the table is set up on the side of a field full of kale, wildflowers, and other rows of produce.

The occasion for this special (and literal) farm to table dinner is a fundraiser for the Racine Area Youth Farm Corps Program, a branch of the  Eco-Justice program.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Farmworkers in the U.S. face unique challenges, complicated by a lack of workplace protections and immigration status that makes it difficult to hold employers accountable. Combined with amplified threats of deportation, many farm laborers are finding their jobs increasingly more difficult.

courtesy Valerie Stull/MIGHTi

At the Wisconsin State Fair this month, among the extreme food offerings - like, say, the deep-fried bacon-wrapped olives on a stick - was one menu option you might have missed: cricket nachos

solidarity-us.org

Jesus Salas has been involved in nearly every aspect of the agriculture and migrant worker movement in Wisconsin - from founding Obreros Unidos to being CEO of United Migrant Opportunity Services.

As a child, Salas and his family traveled from Crystal City, Texas to the Great Lakes Region to cultivate and harvest crops. In 1959, the family settled in Wautoma, where the young Salas (a third-generation migrant worker) became actively involved in fighting for the rights of improving migrant workers.

Brennan's Market / facebook.com

Earlier this summer, the owners of a longtime staple on the Wisconsin produce scene announced they will shut their doors for good at the end of September. Brennan’s Markets was founded 75 years ago and operates five stores around Wisconsin, including in Brookfield and Oconomowoc.

Michelle Maternowski

The Lake Effect team headed to WE Energies Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis as part of our summer series Full Plate, which has been showcasing agriculture in our region. 

Maayan Silver

The tang of a freshly picked tomato, the crunch and sweetness of a recently harvested carrot, the crisp floral flavor of a just-picked cucumber. Chef Dave Swanson wants to facilitate restaurant-goers' ability to taste these items, and pretty much anything else that can be produced or foraged in Wisconsin.

Groundwork MKE

There’s a local youth agriculture program that has goals bigger than getting kids into farming. Milwaukee native Nick DeMarsh founded Young Farmers MKE with the intent to encourage participants to make goals and plans for the future - farming just seemed to be the perfect medium to get there.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Bees first began to creep into Charlie Koenen’s life in 2002. Today his previous careers in computer programming and consulting might as well belong to someone else altogether.

Koenen is a beevangelist through and through. “I never would have predicted the path, but the importance is really astonishing - a beehive when it’s operating. That’s the amazement I want to give everybody,” he says.

elenabsl / Fotolia

Earlier this summer, the owners of a longtime staple on the Wisconsin produce scene announced they will shut their doors for good at the end of September.  Brennan’s Markets operated five stores around Wisconsin, including in Brookfield and Oconomowoc.

Dave Parker / Flickr

Entering a grocery store, buyers are often bombarded with seemingly all-important yet ill-defined terms; words like “organic”, “sustainable”, or – perhaps the most pernicious culprit – “natural.”

But what do these terms actually mean? And how can consumers know if the foods they’re buying - usually at a premium - were grown or raised in an organic environment?

The US Department of Agriculture, or USDA, is tasked with setting minimum organic standards that farms of all sizes must meet, and then ensuring compliance with those standards.

Milk Prices 101

Jul 18, 2017
Kadmy / Fotolia

It may come as no surprise that much of our agriculture is wrapped up in dairy - after all, Wisconsin is called America's Dairyland. But despite the moniker, Wisconsin is not immune to the market forces that drive the price of dairy both here and throughout the country.

You might notice when you go to the grocery store, the price of milk varies a lot. In fact, it changes so much that it’s routine for some groceries and delis to post the price outside of the store - like signs at a gas station.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Molecular biologist Michael Schläppi experimented with rice varieties from around the globe for five years - testing how they stood up to Wisconsin weather in miniature paddies he built on his rooftop lab on campus.

He settled on a short-grain variety from Russia.

Two years ago, he took the experiment to a farm field outside Port Washington.

Mitch Teich

Summer is in full swing, and for many that means regular visits to a local farmers’ market. Since 1994, the number of farmers’ markets in the country has grown from less than two thousand to nearly nine thousand - and that's just counting the ones registered in the US Department of Agriculture’s directory. In fact, there are over 350 markets within 100 miles of Milwaukee.

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